“The estimated number of adolescents in Uasin Gishu County that need to be on treatment for HIV and AIDS is 2,968. Only 53% of that figure have been identified and are on treatment.” These were the revelations on Thursday, as the residents marked World Aids Day in Eldoret town. The awareness creation event concerning the alarming rate of HIV infections was led by Ampath together with the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital among other stakeholders.
The general population living with HIV in Uasin Gishu county is estimated at 44,838; according to the report
.Among them, only 41, 323 are identified and are on treatment. Those identified add up to 92% which is below the recommended 95%. This type of outcome means that those unidentified are at risk of spreading the virus even further.
The day, marked under the theme: Equalize, #Sawazisha, was geared towards ending triple threats in HIV and AIDS and also in curbing the alarming rate of infections as well as teen pregnancies.
The goal towards the triple threat this year which is becoming a problem for adolescents and youth is to;
-Reduce the new HIV infections among youth
-End adolescent teenage pregnancies
-Stop gender-based violence among adolescents and the other population
Alarming HIV infections numbers among Adolescents and the youth
With the focus being on adolescents, both their new HIV infections as well as teenage pregnancies recorded an all-time high in cases per year.
“So far, nationally we are at about 20% of the teenage population being pregnant. Our prevalence as Uasin Gishu county is 35.1% which means we are higher than the national prevalence. The HIV rate is alarming. Hence why it is a threat so far. 4,600 out of 39,030; the total number of pregnancies in the county, were teenagers.” Said the report.
Similarly, 460 cases of gender based violence involving teenagers in the county were reported. Non-reporting being the main reason for this; together with the prevalence of kangaroo courts which continually exposes the affected to adverse risks.
“I call upon the administration and the community stakeholders to sensitize our community to report in case of violence. Because we have help in the facilities, we have services that are geared toward gender-based violence survivors. And we need to identify and report so that we can get the resources that can help us to assist them”. Said Lilian, a representative from KASKO.
This comes barely a week since the National Syndemic Diseases Control Council (NSDCC)’s report established that; four new HIV infection cases among teenagers aged between 10 to 19 years are reported weekly in Uasin Gishu county. The report further established Turbo and Kapseret sub-counties are contributing to 50 percent of those adolescent alarming rate of HIV infections in the county in 2022. Bearing witness to the accuracy of these statistics is Edwin Kimutai; Head of performance management at NSDCC who was also in attendance.
He said, “Uasin Gishu is part of the counties that still contribute a larger percentage of new infections in the country. We have had discussions with the County as well as the director of health, and they have also put in place programs that will address that. Our partners in Ampath are also working closely with the county to ensure that these people are put on treatment.”
The county government of Uasin Gishu on the other hand, through its County Director of Clinical Services, pledged the provision of quality healthcare services through the Nguzo Kumi initiative.
Speaking at the event, Dr. Donald Rotich said that the county currently has an infection prevention Committee to help come up with actionable points toward preventing many other diseases in the county. He added that the county has put aside measures as well as a budget to cater to it.
“On the management of HIV, we are partnering with so many partners led by Ampath. As a county alone, we might not have the huge resources to manage it. We also intend on running health promotions as well as focusing on sensitization. We are going to roll out school health programs and ensure that it is multidisciplinary so that the education is quality.” Said, Dr. Donald
Other areas worth focusing on towards the alarming rate HIV infection reduction journey according to Beatrice Jakait; the Deputy Chief Party for Uzima Program at Ampath are; ensuring those infected virally suppressed by way of ART treatment; for those who may be exposed to HIV one time or so, utilizing pre-exposure prophylaxis or post-exposure prophylaxis is necessary. She also reiterated how Gender Based Violence can expose people to HIV.
Evidently, the recent statistics have caused worry among the people in Eldoret. Especially its prevalence among young people. In my interaction with a few of the residents, many expressed their concerns about lagging by the county government yet it is now becoming one of the biggest threats in the region.
“It is the real pandemic!” one dared to say. Or perhaps an epidemic don’t you think?
Together with the other stakeholders present, the media as well as the people should take individual responsibility by keeping safe as well as getting closer to the younger generation. Many contributors to this, could be loneliness, depression, hard economic times as well as many other reasons.